If you want to talk about a wasted opportunity, you can talk about a game in which the Orioles offense scored no runs in the rare half-decent start from Tommy Hunter. Well, no problem - today they've just got to pick themselves up and score some runs against Jeremy Hellickson. Aw, crap.
Well, one thing working in their favor (?) is that today the lineup will be bolstered (?) by the presence of Nate McLouth, who was summoned from Norfolk today as Endy Chavez was cast aside. McLouth had to be added to the roster or he could opt out and try to catch on elsewhere, and it seems the Orioles decided that adding him to the roster was the better option. Considering that the other players they've been playing in left field have been Chavez, Lew Ford and Chris Davis, this may even represent a better option. He last had an OPS over .700 in 2009. So, you know.
Wei-Yin Chen starts for the Orioles. That's always good news, considering he's the one consistent and good starter the team has right now. On top of this, the Rays are not a team with a great record against LHP (14-19), so there may be a slight edge there. Standard disclaimer, this record means little: the Rays could have a great day or Chen could have a bad one. Chen has a good track record this year. That's always a good sign.
Next we can think a little about the O's offense against Hellickson. As I probably mention every time the O's face him, and will mention every time in the future, Hellickson is either the luckiest pitcher on Earth or is a stark example of a pitcher for whom a statistic like Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) has no value. Hellickson's ERA is 3.23, which is great, but his FIP is 5.05, which is Oriolesque. 72 K in 111.1 IP is not great, and he's given up 18 home runs. What's weird about this is that the Rays defense isn't even great by UZR this year - yet it seems what they do have is just right, fundamentally, with placement and whatever else, to help Hellickson, most of the time.
Same as yesterday, we can't really call this a must-win game for the Orioles, but it's should-win to preserve their spot in the standings. If they lose again today, there will be two games of daylight between the O's and the Rays with David Price set to start tomorrow. That wouldn't be too good. Win today and they'll be tied. Either way they face Price, but one looks a lot better than the other. As much as anything can look good when the miracle cures are Lew Ford and Nate McLouth.
|BALTIMORE ORIOLES||TAMPA BAY RAYS|
|Nick Markakis - RF||Desmond Jennings - LF|
|J.J. Hardy - SS||B.J. Upton - CF|
|Chris Davis - DH||Ben Zobrist - 2B|
|Adam Jones - CF||Jeff Keppinger - DH|
|Matt Wieters - C||Carlos Pena - 1B|
|Wilson Betemit - 3B||Sean Rodriguez - SS|
|Nate McLouth - LF||Sam Fuld - RF|
|Mark Reynolds - 1B||Ryan Roberts - 3B|
|Omar Quintanilla - 2B||Jose Molina - C|